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The International Monthly, Volume 3, No. 4, July, 1851   By:

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THE INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE

Of Literature, Art, and Science.

Vol. III. NEW YORK, JULY 1, 1851. No. IV.

FITZ GREENE HALLECK.

[Illustration]

The author of Fanny , Burns , Marco Bozzaris , etc., was born at Guilford in Connecticut, in August, 1795, and in his eighteenth year removed to the city of New York. He evinced a taste for poetry and wrote verses at a very early period; but the oldest of his effusions I have seen are those under the signatures of "Croaker," and "Croaker & Co.," published in the New York Evening Post , in 1819. In the production of these pleasant satires he was associated with Doctor DRAKE, author of the Culprit Fay , a man of brilliant wit and delicate fancy, with whom he was long intimate. DRAKE died in 1820, and his friend soon after wrote for the New York Review , then edited by BRYANT, the lines to his memory, beginning

"Green be the turf above thee, Friend of my better days, None knew thee but to love thee, Nor named thee but to praise."

Near the close of 1819, Halleck published Fanny, his longest poem, which was written and printed in three weeks; in 1827 a small volume, containing Alnwick Castle, Marco Bozzaris, and a few other pieces, which had previously appeared in various miscellanies; and in 1836, an edition of all his serious and more finished compositions. The last and most complete edition of his works appeared two years ago in a splendid volume from the press of the Appletons.

It was Lord Byron's opinion that a poet is always to be ranked according to his execution, and not according to his branch of the art. "The poet who executes best," said he, "is the highest, whatever his department, and will ever be so rated in the world's esteem." We have no doubt of the justness of that remark; it is the only principle from which sound criticism can proceed, and upon this basis the reputations of the past have been made up. Considered in this light, Mr. Halleck must be pronounced not merely one of the chief ornaments of new literature, but one of the great masters in a language, classical and immortal, for the productions of genius which have illustrated and enlarged its capacities. There is in his compositions an essential pervading grace, a natural brilliancy of wit, a freedom yet refinement of sentiment, a sparkling flow of fancy, and a power of personification, combined with such high and careful finish, and such exquisite nicety of taste, that the larger part of them must be pronounced models almost faultless in the classes to which they belong. They appear to me to show a genuine insight into the principles of art, and a fine use of its resources: and after all that has been said and written about nature, strength, and originality, the true secret of fame, the real magic of genius is not force, not passion, not novelty, but art. Look all through Milton; look at the best passages of Shakspeare; look at the monuments, "all Greek and glorious," which have come down to us from ancient times, what strikes us principally, and it might almost be said only, is the wonderfully artificial character of the composition; it is the principle of their immortality, and without it no poem can be long lived. It may be easy to acquire popularity, and easy to display art in writing, but he who obtains popularity by the means and employment of careful, elaborate art, may be confident that his reputation is fixed upon a sure basis. This for his careless playing with the muse, by which one time he kept the town alive, is scarcely remembered now this, it seems to me, Mr. Halleck has done; Mr. Halleck, Mr. Bryant, and Mr. Poe, have done above all our authors.

THE BENEVOLENT INSTITUTIONS OF NEW YORK.

No city in the world is more justly entitled to consideration for active, judicious, and liberal benevolence, than New York, though it must be confessed that in some respects others may make a more splendid display of the machinery of philanthropy, and even seem in the subscriptions made every year to particular charities to be more liberal... Continue reading book >>


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